Hillsong UNITED, ZION Music Review

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Zion is here. 

Before you crack open your Bible and search fervently for the meaning of “Zion,” let me clarify.  Hillsong UNITED has released their newest album, Zion.

Hillsong is a mega church based out of Sydney, Australia, with campuses around the globe, including London and New York City; UNITED is the worship band birthed from Hillsong’s youth ministry in the ‘90s.  Now, they tour globally, leading worship with their original songs that are relevant to churches and Christians around the world.

Zion is no exception.  Released on February 26 of this year, it is UNITED’s third studio album.  The the desire of its worship leaders, Joel Houston, Jad Gillies, JD, and Matt Crocker, is evident in this album as in their past albums.  They lead a team of pastors and musicians that is committed to “giving voice to a generation passionate about God.”[1]

Gone are the days when acoustic instruments ruled the music industry.  Their crown has been usurped by the new reign of synthesizers, electronic and digitally enhanced instruments.  This generation of music is characterized by simple, “singable” melodies, well-composed lyrics, and driving beats. UNITED has taken these popular elements of today’s music and combined them with heartfelt prayers and expressions of praise.

Zion gives the world a glimpse into what the future holds for worship music.

True to this new style, songs like Relentless, ZION’s opener, Up In Arms, and Heartbeats, boast catchy melodies, unique sounds, and almost-techno beats that turn listeners into dancers.  Other songs, like Scandal of Grace and Mercy Mercy, are straightforward prayers, reflecting on God’s grace and goodness through beautiful lyrics and imagery.

Perhaps the most noteworthy song on the album is Oceans (Where Feet May Fail).  This nearly-nine-minute-long anthem is a bold declaration and prayerful reminder that speaks to those moments in our lives when it feels like the oceans rising:

“You never fail and You won’t stop now / So I will call upon Your name / And keep my eyes above the waves / My soul will rest in Your embrace / For I am Yours and You are mine.” 

I spent time reading my Bible and praying while ZION played.

I was moved to tears. The songs are sung prayers, which all worshipers can make their own and join in songful declaration.

The album’s ethereal soundtracks are perfect for personal worship, while the sounds reminiscent of those heard on the Top-40 can be enjoyed anywhere.

In the past, songs released by UNITED have been recreated by churches for congregational worship. This album is a slight departure from previous albums and as a result churches that employ a conservative style of music may find it difficult to do this.

While I may not be hearing the newest, most popular ZION song in next Sunday’s musical set, as a worshipper, I am thrilled that UNITED is pioneering a new sound of worship music that can span genres, generations, and countries.

Check out Hillsong UNITED’s Zion at http://hillsongunited.com/.

Comments welcome HERE.

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A native of New Jersey, Denise is a full-time worship leader, mentor, designer, and blogger based out of Fort Lauderdale, FL.  She wants to use her voice to inspire others to seek healing and pursue restoration of broken relationships.  Follow her blonde moments at http://bmotd.wordpress.com/. 



 [1] UNITED. Hillsong Church. “About UNITED.” http://hillsongunited.com/about/ (Accessed March 20, 2013)

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